Notes On Single Motherhood: Three years

Three years.

Three years since freedom.

Three years since independence.

Three years since rebirth.

Three years since it's been just us three.

Here's a little backstory to the significance of this date (27th December). See, when I was still married, the wedding anniversary fell on Christmas - 25th December - of every year. The fact that the divorce-sary is so close to that date was purely coincidental and unplanned (in fact, we were due to be in court in January, but the date was brought forward, which I was and still am very glad about!).

I've always celebrated this day with introspection and a good bit of blessing-counting. This year is no different. I've been very very very blessed all my life - any misfortune was often short-lived and filled with hidden blessings - but these past three years I feel as if I have (undeservedly) been showered by countless blessings, which include:

  • My people (mah peeps for short). I can't express how grateful I am to the people in my life who have been there for me through thick and thin, and I sure do hope they don't get sick of me saying it!
  • Kind, loving men who have been my romantic partners in the past three years (some relationships were more short-lived than others, but I was very fortunate that most of the men have been very very sweet and never ever jerks). The few that were introduced to the children - and there really have only been less than a handful - have continued to stay in their hearts and our lives, and for that I am also very grateful. More importantly, I feel very blessed to have met the person I am with now, who fills our days with joy and laughter and funny foreign slang. You're grouse, mate! (I am usually very shy to talk about this aspect of my life, but I owe it to my faithful blog readers to slowly write about this, because it is a very very popular question that new single moms ask me!)
  • Realizing the degree of my resilience and tenacity, and the empowerment that comes with that realization. As with all human beings, I have my moments of hopelessness and despair. But those moments are few and far between these days, and I am glad for that. There are many lessons I hope still to learn in this department, as I remain thoroughly thin-skinned most days, especially with strangers (I am not snobbish, just shy! So if you see me, come say hi).
  • My faith and spirituality, which I have learned is my own and mine alone. 
  • My light, my life, my heart, my soul -- my wonderful children. They remain the main focus of my life, and the main source of joy. As far as they remember, it's always been the three of us. And that's how it will stay for quite a while, I think. And that is fine by me :)

Make love, not war (not in THAT way)

I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend who is going through a period of enlightenment following his father's miraculous recovery from serious surgery. My friend is Hindu, and upon reflection, decided to take a temporary vow of poverty. He's isn't sacrificing his entire lifestyle, but he did make significant changes in three areas of life: he only eats one meal a day (which is a vegetarian meal), he only takes cold showers, and he sleeps on a tikar (mat) on the floor.

His journey is similar to what us Muslims go through during Ramadhan, or some Christians do during Lent. A period of sacrifice to remind us to be grateful and remember those less fortunate.

He said that within the first day, he found himself seeing things from a different perspective. He's become kinder to himself (smoking less) and to others (not swearing any time he gets pissed off). He's more aware of the plight of others, and is more grateful for all the blessings he has.

But really the thing that struck me the most was his observations of the world with his new perspective: he remarks that people can be so unkind.

Why can't we all just hug it out?
It is a simple notion. Something most people take as a fact of life and never question. But, in my opinion, it is a very sad situation that needs to be changed.

The dissolution of my marriage and the painful aftermath weren't the most fun things to go through, but I am so grateful for the new perspective on life that came with that pain. I, too, frequently observe unkindness being dished out. And it's made me very vigilant about trying to be as kind as possible to myself and others.

The anonymity of social media has made it worse. Have you read some YouTube comments lately? Actually, even on the relative non-anonymity of Facebook, I've observed people being unkind, and refusing to take the kinder route of communication. It's really puzzling. Ponder this:

I'm Not A Frog Boiler! 
When you reject authoritarian, coercive parenting in favor of non-punitive, pleasure-oriented parenting, critics and naysayers will warn you that your child won't be able to cope in the "real" world. 
The assumption is that "it's a jungle out there" and we should gradually toughen up our kids and get them used to suffering so they won't be shocked when they venture out into the big, bad world. 
It's like that famous experiment where they tossed a healthy frog in boiling water and it leaped right out. But if they put the frog in cool water and raised the temperature gradually over several days, the frog would be able to adjust and stay in the water. 
The slow boil seems more humane, but that "well-adjusted" frog eventually died from the heat! Whereas the non-adjusted frog's intact sensitivity protected it from being boiled.
Today, look for evidence that your child's sensitivity is intact (i.e., reacting to unwanted conditions) and be grateful for it! Tell yourself, "My child will never get boiled!"
Source: The Daily Groove from EnjoyParenting.Com

This is one of my favorite things to read, and something I read every time I feel bad after someone's been unkind to me, or if I've felt that I've been unkind to someone. It's comforting to know that my "kindness radar" is working normally and I have not "adjusted" to unkindness. These days, I'm slowly teaching the virtue of "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything" to my kids. But it seems a number of adults need that reminder too (myself included, sometimes!).

Well, I leave you with that thought as we begin the weekend. Till next time, be kind to one another! (Suka hati je plagiarizing Ellen kan)

Update on the book

The book's coming along better than I expected (thanks to my kick-a$$ editor who is always there to answer the numerous silly questions I may have. Patience of a saint, that one). Some days are better than others - just today I knocked out 2.5 draft chapters...which is more than what I've done over the last 3 days (Sunday is off day, give chance la please).

Anyhoo, now I'm starting up the marketing and other miscellaneous non-writing tasks for the book. Non-writing tasks is a misleading term here, though, because you best believe that engaging product sponsors requires a fair bit of writing! By the way, if you make and/or sell baby carriers, feel free to get in touch with me at to inquire about sponsorship. I'll send you details on how you can get your carriers into the book :) And to those whom I have already e-mailed, I hope to hear from you soon!

Another non-writing task has been the babywearing model search. Thanks to all the people that shared the information on their respective social media platforms, I've received quite a few submissions already (we've got some pretty hot babywearing mamas out there yo) but I hope to receive even more as the closing date for submission draws near. Quick, send in your submissions ASAP! I'm really excited about choosing the models and having the photoshoot. This has been one of the more fun aspects of writing the book for sure.

One other fun thing about writing this book is looking back at my own old babywearing photos...

...which is where I found this treasure of a shot. Seeing this photo again made me smile and tear up at the same time. I'm so happy that I had many years of carrying my children "close enough to kiss" but so wistful that I'm no longer wearing them. Seeing this image strengthens my resolve to make these moments happen for all parents, and I can't wait for my book to be a part of that mission.

Wanted: Talents for my babywearing book

Are you a babywearer?

Would you and your child like to be featured in a book that will not only be available in Malaysia, but globally also?

Send me your submissions and you could very well be The Babywearing World's Next Top Model ;)

All I need from you is this:
Child(ren)'s Name(s):
Child(ren)'s Age(s):
Carriers that you use (this is so I can decide which type of carrier you can model):
Brief description about your babywearing experience:
Please include one full-length photo and one mid-length babywearing photo.

The photoshoot is set to happen sometime in mid-January 2014, so if you're chosen, you'll have to make yourself free around that time. I'll try my best to find a date that can suit everyone's schedule, which means that it will likely happen on a weekend. Please note that the photoshoot will be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, so for those who live out of town, you'll have to come here for the shoot.

I am looking for babywearers and babywearees of all different genders, ages, and color. That means that if you're a babywearing mama with a newborn, you'd be welcome. If you're a babywearing daddy with a preschooler, you'd also be welcome. As long as you are a babywearer, I'd love to work with you!

Please send in your submissions by 28th December 2013. I shall get back to you soon after, if you are chosen. Good luck!

Family makeover weekend!

This past weekend inadvertently turned out to be a Family Makeover Weekend, and I couldn't be happier with the results!

First, I celebrated my birthday on Friday, December 6, by getting some "me time" in at my favorite spot in KL - Bukit Bintang. I got my hair done at my usual place, Miko Galere in Sungei Wang Plaza. My usual guy isn't working there anymore :( Which freaked me out a bit. But my "new guy" Jiro Lee did my hair perfectly!

This was a big change for me - I've had long hair for about 4 years now. But I've had this hairstyle before (thanks to my college friend Amjad who reminded me of this!) - ten years ago, to be exact. So it's not something I'm not used to. But I'm glad to take some "weight" off my head.

It's not uncommon for people to go for a drastic haircut after a break-up, and that's kinda what this was about for me. I've also started seeing someone new, so in some twisted way, this haircut was about fresh starts as well. And here you thought it was only about having pretty new hair! ;p

Anyhoo, that Sunday I took the kids out for their haircut too, and in an unexpected hipster move, I took them to Joe's Barbershop. Now, I've been wanting to take them here for at least 6 months now, but was always put off by it's location - I love my hometown, but Subang Jaya (and SS15 specifically) is a nightmare when it comes to parking. Luckily, when I went there on a Sunday, parking was easy to find...but not so luckily, I couldn't get a spot for the kids at the barbershop, so we elected to just eat at Joe's Kitchen (which is basically on the same property - there's a glass door between the two businesses).

You can see the glass partition behind me here
Full house at the Barbershop - no wonder we couldn't get a spot!
Om nom nom noms
I had the Jumbo Dog (I think it's called?) which is basically like a Coney Island hot dog but a little spicier, and atop a bed of delicious mashed potatoes. As you can see, Aqil ate almost an entire thin-crust pepperoni pizza (they only do thin crusts here). I enjoyed the hip-hop blaring on the speakers, and the food was pretty good and reasonably priced...but the place was SO cramped, and service could be vast improved. I observed that some of the staff were more attentive than others, while some staff weren't attentive at all. It's basically enough to put me off of going to Joe's specifically for the Kitchen.

The Barbershop, however, was another story! The guy at the counter actually chased after us as we left the kitchen to head home, telling us that a couple slots had opened up (thank you, guy at the counter, for being awesome). And when we went into the barbershop, everyone was so nice to us. They found the kids amusing more than anything, I think. LOL.

The haircuts turned out SO good. The barbers have great attention to detail - the entire haircut was more than worth the RM15 I paid for it (also, I meant to tip the barbers but forgot!! Bad customer D:). We'll definitely go back there again for their haircuts from now on. 

Also, in case you were wondering, the barbers got their hair this slick using Suavecito Pomade. They sell them at Joe's Barbershop, but at RM60 a tub, I couldn't really justify the cost. I need to get some kind of hair product for the kids, though. Their hair's looking a bit funny without product in it:

So, there ya go, a whole new look for our family of three! I'm personally still getting used to my new length and hue (as it turns out, it is kinda hard to coordinate my outfits so they don't clash with bright red hair), but no regrets!

Miko Hair Galere
F008-010, 1st Floor,
Sungei Wang Plaza, J
alan Bukit Bintang, 55100 K.L
Tel : +603-2141 1203
Fax : +603-2144 6708

Joe's Barbershop & Kitchen
No.18 Jalan SS 15/8B,
47500 Subang Jaya
Opening Hours: 11AM - 11PM (Daily)‬
Tel: 03-56137000

The Apartment: Design Your Destiny - Season Finale!

I know it's been a week since The Apartment's season finale aired on StarWorld, but I've been waiting for it to air on NTV7 (which it did on Saturday night) so that there were no spoilers out there!

The episode opens by reminding us what the two final teams are in for this week:

Designing an entire apartment in just 72 hours (that's three days) with a $30,000 budget. They'll get plenty of handymen time, which is great, but with 7 rooms and two bathrooms to design, they're still gonna have to get down and dirty to complete this challenge! Once the 72 hours are over, their apartments will be judged by guests of the Grand Prize Gala, but with an interesting twist: the guests will be judging the apartments without knowing who the apartments belong to.

Even as each team were conceptualizing, you could tell that they knew exactly what they were doing. It's the kind of self-assuredness that can only come from having 9 weeks of hardcore experience behind them. Tastes aside, there are so many technical aspects to home design and decorating, and it is not something you can pull off just by reading a couple of books about home decor. The 9 weeks of intense challenges, of blood, sweat, and tears, have turned these two remaining teams into almost-pros, which is far from the amateurs they were when the show began.

Enough of my rambling, let's check out the designs!

First, let's talk about the resident artisans, Deankie and Tiara! They went for a eco-themed home, utilizing a lot of greens and yellows and browns and teal (which is Dulux' Color Of The Year for 2014). During the challenge, Deankie said something very apt: "We haven't just been decorating, we've been designing". I think that this has been their strength all throughout the competition, and it's something that is very much apparent in the space they have created this time around. The most outstanding detail in their apartment? The living room ceiling!

They've done something similar before, I know, but this time around there was more attention given to the manipulation of the fabric to create a mood. To know that these two petite friends of mine did it by themselves is astonishing - this creation was creative, aesthetically pleasing, and suited their eco home perfectly. LOVE.

Now let's move on to Yvette and Sonya. These two have been the front-runners early on, winning the first challenge of the season (where my team was booted out, sob sob!) and pretty much every other challenge after. Their strength is in their impeccable tastes - these two know what looks good, and they know how to pull it off. I relate on a personal level to their style, because I love that rustic, industrial look that they do really well. Their standout designs this week? Their living room shelving and their adorable nursery!

The floor-to-ceiling shelving unit in their living room was just divine. I have a weakness for shelves, so I was very excited to see that. Also they had a book there that I had fun reading...I think it was something like All About Needlecraft. I wanted to stuff it into my bag so I could sneak away with it, but it wouldn't fit :( The nursery...OMG...I was squealing when I walked into that room. It was so perfect! The walls turned out great, and having the crib in the middle of the room was very clever and practical. Very very cute room!

That's Azaria and I in Yvette & Sonia's living room
After the guests had cast their vote, we were all transported to the Grand Prize Gala at KLGCC. The air was electric: everyone was excited to see who'd win. The Gala was also incredibly emotional. The fantastic producers pulled off something incredibly generous and sweet: they flew in Deankie's mom all the way from the Phillipines! When they invited her on stage and Deankie broke down crying, half the room was sobbing, and the other half was trying not to.

Before Jamie and Laurence announced the results, it was revealed that the runner up would not only win two brand new Vespa scooters, but also an apprenticeship with Andrea Savage's company, Design Intervention. The winners, of course, will win a home at the Elmina by Sime Darby Properties...but the judges announced that they will also get to go on holiday in Bali! After 10 weeks of hard labor, that vacay is definitely very much needed.

So...who won?


I am so proud of these two and how far they've come. They've gone from being almost homeless to now having a luxurious property to call their own. These two good friends are not only good to each other, but are so kind, sweet, humble, affectionate, and caring to everyone around them. More than that, they are legit talented designers who know what they're doing. I have so much love for these two, it's not even funny. They totally deserved to win, and I don't think anyone can disagree. Congratulations, you two!

Now, I know the season just ended, but I'm already looking forward to next season...and if you love decorating and have a TV-worthy personality, grab a partner and sign up for the auditions here! Being on the show is an experience that I won't soon forget, and I've made some really good friends that I wouldn't have ever met otherwise...and that's only after being around for a week ;p

Thanks to the folks at JadenSocial (particularly Karen!) for inviting me to write the weekly reviews this season, and thanks to everyone who has watched the show and read my reviews. It's been a fun ten weeks, but I look forward to getting back to my "regularly scheduled programming" of blog posts from here on out. Now, go out there and design your destiny (oh god, that was painfully cheesy).